The main feature of the economic crisis in Germany in 1923 was hyperinflation. The Germany currency, the mark, became almost worthless because Germany had to pay reparations of £6600 million to the allies. They printed thousands of notes, which meant that their value decreased. The more notes printed, the lower the value of the mark became. In January 1929 there was 64 marks to the dollar, but in November 1923 there was 4. 2 trillion marks to the dollar! People needed a wheelbarrow to carry their daily wages! Instead of using wallets, people used suitcases to carry their money in!
The daily salary of an editor of a magazine, which would be a fairly well paid job, was only enough to buy a loaf of bread, a small piece of cheese and some oatmeal. Many people lost their life savings because the value of the mark had decreased so dramatically. Overnight, savings could be reduced to almost nothing! Many people were starving because they were not being paid enough to keep up with taxes and the cost of food. The government was not helping the Germany people because they had to pay reparations to the allies. All payments of any kind made to the Government went to the allies, rather than helping the German people first.
Lots of Germans became unemployed. People working in any kind of job other than food shop keeping or farming found it hard to make a living. This is because people didn’t have money to buy anything else, other than food, so other trades were declining. Not everyone, however, was badly affected by the economic crisis. The shop keeping trade was booming! As soon as people were paid their daily salary, they would rush out to buy their essentials before the shop was sold out or prices went up. With most of Germany doing this, shop owners had money pouring in.
Bankers, industrialists and currency speculators who were able to deal in foreign currency or land also benefited from the economic crisis and hyperinflation. People who lived in the countryside were not doing too badly either. This is because they were growing their own food, which meant that they could feed their family as well as selling some of their produce. Yet in the cities, health and hygiene standards were decreasing. City people were eating a very un-nutritional and unbalanced diet, as they could not afford to have a variety of foods. This lead to the appearance of diseases.
There were appearances from diseases such as “edema” and “War dropsy” because of a watery diet. Food poisoning became common because people were eating spoiled foods, as they were starving. People could easily die from these conditions, as German medical care was not as good as it was before the economic crisis. Even though some people benefited from the economic crisis in Germany, millions did not. The amount of people earning lots of money and being able to afford food and have good hygiene standards was not enough to equal out to the amount of people who were unemployed, homeless, starving and dying from disease.